Seven days later

After the emotional events of the previous week that started on the Saturday with a 1st cousin match, to discovering who my birth father was on the Sunday to the rest of the week meeting the 1st of many first cousins, talking to many more on the phone, video calls, emailing and Facebook messaging, I was well and truly tired out and in much need of a day off,  so come the Sunday MOTH and I walked to our favourite harbour-side café for lunch and a few too many wines that rendered me useless in the afternoon.  After lunch we returned home to relaxed in front of the telly watching re-runs of Escape to the Sun – England or Spain.  Spain being my pick after our wonderful month-long holiday there the previous September.

I was feeling rather content with my world as it was, happy that I had broken the 35 year drought of not knowing my birth family. To finish off my relaxing day, I decided to spend the night building ‘my’ family tree, at least half of it.  I was eager to find the Watkins-Williams connection the family told me about.  Of course it wasn’t lost on me or my cousins or my Aunt, that Watkins was most certainly in reference to the Watkins-Williams family connection.  I was also keen to find connections to distant cousins that I had communicated with over the last 2 years.

I began my new Kitty tree with me, then I added my father Donald then his father Herbert and his wife, my  grand mother, Doris Catherine.  Once I included Doris I noticed more Ancestry Hint leaves.

Hints are suggested records that are likely to contain information about the people to whom they’re assigned. Hints are signified by the green leaves that appear on people in family trees.

Using these hints I added Doris’s parent’s James and Caroline, then James’s parents William and Eliza, my paternal 2nd great-grandparents.  More and more leaves appeared with hints to the next ancestral generation.  From the list of hints I saw something that blew me away, my 4th cousin Kerry from New Zealand’s tree popped up as a family connection hint.

Bingo, another mystery solved!

I had been chatting with Kerry almost immediately after doing the Ancestry DNA test and uploading it to other sites such as FamiltyTreeDNA where I met Kerry.  Although she is a 4th cousin, she was the closest in location as most of my other 4th cousin were in the US.   Kerry roped in several of her cousins to do the DNA test to help narrow the search coverage. After several cousin tested and proved not to be related to me, the ancestral lines of my search narrowed then her uncle  tested and he was my 4th cousin as well further narrowing the search to one of four possibilities.

After messaging Kerry with my findings she figured out quickly the 3rd great-grandparents we shared. Our 3rd great-grandmother’s maiden name that was also the middle name of my father.

It’s all coming together – then!

Feeling very happy with myself I set about building my Grandmother’s maternal line when I got a message through Ancestry from Stephen.

Who is Stephen?

Stephen is the son of a 4th cousin Brian whom I’ve been in contact with just recently. Stephen is the administrator of Brian’s DNA kit. Brian popped up as my closest 4th cousin on the 17 February 2017 and I immediately sent my usual 1st message:

I noticed you popped up in my dna list today. You’re one of my closest matches. With the amount of DNA we share we probably share great great grandparents.

Just wondering if you’re interested in helping find how we’re related?


Kitty Leigh

A few emails back and forth with Stephen who was talking things over with his Dad Brian, I discovered they were from Ballarat.  At last, I finally found a connection in Victoria Australia, I feel the mystery could be unfolding but I don’t get too excited as a 4th cousin match still is a long shot chance of turning up anything concrete.

Another email from me identified a common cousin Sheryl.

Hi Kitty,

Dad and I have been discussing this tonight and he thinks that Sheryl  shares his paternal paternal great grandparents, Edmund K* and Johanna F*. They had quite a number of children in the late 1800’s. Edmund was definitely born in Australia but his father John came out from Ireland in the mid 1850’s. I’m fairly sure Johanna was born here as well but need to double check.


More emails exchanged uncovered that Sheryl and Brian shared more DNA than I do so our common ancestor was one generation back but who will I go with, the maternal or paternal line?  I can’t remember why I picked the maternal line but I did and a large family tree emerged……..

Back to Stephen’s latest message

Hi Kitty, Stephen here. That is extraordinary after all these years, that finally you know who your father was.

I have been doing some sleuthing, and I have a possibility to offer you as to who ‘Anne’ was, assuming that it was her correct name. There is an Anne B*, who married a Michael H*, who appears on our family tree. She was born on September 1936, which would have made her 24 at the time of your birth. From what I can tell, she was also a nurse. She was not however born at Portland, however, her father was a railway employee who died in 1952 in Portland Hospital and is buried at Portland. His widow, Bridget lived in Portland at the time of her death in 1976. However, she has 6 siblings, not 2 and I also can’t find a record suggesting she has lived in Sydney. I actually can’t find any record of her at all. But I will keep digging.

In terms of the connection between Anne and Brian, Anne’s mother Bridget  was the daughter of David F* who was the son of Patrick F* and Johanna G*. Patrick and Johanna  also had a daughter called Johanna, who married Edmund K*. They had a son, Daniel who then had a son, John, who is Brian’s father, my grandfather. Sounds rather convoluted but when you draw it out it makes more sense.


As I read through Stephen’s message several points sprung out:  Anne’s birth year, Portland, she was a nurse, her father had died before I was born and he worked on the railway – all these details Anne provided the social worker when she was going through the motion of filling out the adoption paperwork. What didn’t fit was the number of siblings she had but everything else screamed at me.

The lump in my throat and the squishiness in my stomach told me there were too many co-incidences here and this could be the end of my search.  But this was all to much, I was still reveling in the aftermath of finding my father.

Was it possible I’ve found my mother too?

I immediately entered the details Stephen gave me into the Ancestry search fields.  This Anne’s surname wasn’t Watkins but that wasn’t a surprise to me as I suspected as such for the past 20 years. There was one record that appeared, a death record of an Anne H*,  her married name. This Anne was born in Victoria in 1936 and died in the USA.  I wasn’t sure if this was the right Anne but finding out she was dead up front would be better than finding out later so I didn’t let that deter my search.

I engaged my daughter on the search.  As much as I’d like to tell you how we went from that information to our next steps but all I can say is my daughter is a great sleuth. In no time we tracked down possible links in Queensland and I was ready to make a phone call.

Many phone calls later it was confirmed that this Anne had a baby in 1961. It was also confirmed that Anne was seeing a man named Donald W* who was much older than her, in fact Anne’s sister met him on a visit to Sydney in 1959.  This meant that Donald and Anne were seeing each other one year before I was conceived.   The cream on the cake of this news was a picture sent to me of a poetry book with an inscription written by my father Donald to Anne.  Anne gave the book to her sister before she died and her sister is giving it to me and besides me, this book will be the only memento of my parents love for each other and I will treasure it forever and a day.

The circle was complete, I now know both my parents, Donald and Anne.  The 35 year search was over.

Dedicated to Stephen, a young man who took it upon himself to help me uncover my story – Forever grateful!

To Anne And Donald, my parents!

I may not have met you but you’ve always been
You live inside my head and my heart
I’ll try not scorn you for abandoning me
Scorn will only destroy and nothing achieved

Kate’s mate

When I was little girl, we lived next door to my maternal Nan and my Auntie (we called her ‘Dig’). Dig worked at a nearby factory.  Every day around 7am and again at 3pm the factory whistle screamed the start and end of the working day and everyone in town would hear it.  When the afternoon whistle blew, I knew that Dig would be home soon and I would run next door to my Nan’s place, stand on the gate and wait for her to come walking up the lane.  On most afternoons before I was old enough to go to school and on weekends I would help Dig with household chores such as gardening, chopping wood, and anything that needed to be done around her and my Nan’s home.  Tammy was the family dog for most of my childhood and she was always hanging around us to keep us company while we worked away in the garden. 

Dig would always say as she walked up the lane towards me, standing on the garden gate – “Kate sat on the garden gate, waiting for her little Mate”.  For Dig’s 80th Birthday I finished her little ditty with the following poem to celebrate the most memorable and wonderful time of my life – spending it with my special Mate.  I knew when I wrote this poem that one day I would read it at her funeral, that day arrived on the 11 May 2016. 

Kate’s mate

Kate sat on the garden gate
Waiting for her little mate
Up the lane she’d come each day
Kate would scream a loud haray

Soon as Mate walked through the gate
She was working with little Kate
Chop the wood and stack the pile
Gather veges once in a while

Then Nan would say its tea time
And Kate would duck next door
Until tomorrow arvo comes
And Kate came back for more

The weekend came
And Kate would know
That back to work Mate didn’t go
And Kate would start the game

Kate snuck next door and jumped in bed
And Mate would wake and shake her head
Get up, get up little Mate
We’ve got to fix the garden gate

Nan would cook em breakfast
And they’d go outside to work
They’d mow the lawn and trim the trees
Til Tammy went beserk

Monday came, the whistle blew
And Mate went off to work
Come 3 o’clock and Kate just knew
Where she would have to lurk

Kate’d be on the garden gate
Waiting for her little Mate
Soon as Mate walked through the gate
She was working with little Kate


 Loved forever, forgotten never!

Nanni day and night care – NO!

I had my lovely grand children over on the weekend which happened to be one week before Easter 2012. I love having them but I also like seeing them go after a day and night of entertaining their busy little minds and bodies.  I’d love to have them longer but unfortunately I have a day job that pretty much exhausts me after a long week.  So I like to think I’m helping out my daughter and son-in-law with a much needed night off from the kids. I know I loved it when my Mum had the kids overnight. And more power to her too, she was much older than me and I had three kids to drop off.  I didn’t give my Mum enough credit for it – miss you Mum!

The weekend starting off with an Easter egg hunt near my place. Unfortunately my daughter was a couple of minutes late so we turned up just as 100s of kids where running around madly looking for Easter eggs.  Mind you, the eggs hunt was conducted on a cricket ground so the eggs weren’t hard to find and because the venue wasn’t clearly marked we also missed out on getting a balloon and an egg basket.  So poor little Matilda (3 years old) managed to find one broken egg. Poor little Charlie missed out all together.  However, we did notice some kids with overflowing egg baskets. My daughter noticed one mother with an overflowing basket, she also noticed this women and her kids resembled the overstuffed fat family you see on “Save my family” – the show where an expert shows them how to change their eating ways.

Oh well, back home to my place where we’d enjoy a nice morning tea of baby cappuccinos and soon after my daughter left us to get on with Nanni night and day care.

PS:  Sometimes having my daughter over with the kids just adds to the kiddy tally.

After morning tea I set the kids up for a morning of craft. Matilda loves loves loves her craft. And I love love love it too – it keeps her occupied for ages.  Charlie on the other hand is good for one or two paintings then he’s done. He moves on to blocks, trucks or generally wondering from one game to another.  We just need to ensure he doesn’t jump off the 9th floor balcony.

I’ve noticed as the kids get older they’re developing their communication skills, they have opinions and on many occasions opposing ones to ours. It’s the later that causes the most stand-offs and this weekend’s standoff – the dummy!

Me:  Charlie – you can’t have your dummy until you go to bed.

Charlie:  Yes I can.

Me:  No you can’t.

Charlie: Yes and he beings to cry.

You just can’t reason with a little boy who cries, they know it and I know it.

Me:  Ok, he’s your dummy then,  but you can only have it for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile after 15 minutes of peace of quiet and no arguments with a 2 year old the whole matter is forgotten and Charlie’s busy sucking on his dummy.

Charlie 2nd, Nanni 3rd – but 1st place goes to peace and quiet!

A Mother’s gift, my gift

There is too much to write about one’s mother, so here is the tip of the iceberg…

It is amazing to think you have been there for me from the moment I was born until now when you read my gift. Not only have you been there physically, your presence in my life has been more than just a mother.  You are my best friend.

You know all of my thoughts without an explanation. You comforted me when my heart was broken. You have nursed me to good health when I have been sick (even when my sickness was self induced and against your wishes).

You have seen me through each year and every special moment in my life, acting not only as a mother and protector but also a friend to share my joy.  You have shown me how to push myself to achieve everything I could ever need or want.

Your strength has made me into the person I am today and if it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where I would be.  Your drive and direction has lead all of us. No one could ask for a better mother and I only hope I can one day be half the mother you have been.

I tried to pinpoint events or things that remind me of you, but I don’t need to be reminded. I think of you every day and smile.

All that lies beneath the water’s surface is too precious for words and can only be expressed in the love I have for you.

I love you Mum




This lovely letter was written by my beautiful daughter long before she was married and long before she became a mother. And I can say she has turned out to be a wonderful mother and a wonderful human being. Everything she writes here I can easily apply in return because she is to me what I am to her.

Like three peas in a pod

Last Sunday my daughter, son-in-law and two grand-kids picked me up so we could visit my furniture designer.  My daughter got into the back seat in-between the kids, my son-in-law didn’t know where to go so I popped into the driver’s seat and away we went. We were happily chatting about design ideas for my daughter’s bedroom when all of a sudden a stupid women decided that my lane looked more appealing. I think she had the idea that she was the only one on the road and therefore didn’t give any warning about her move into ‘my’ lane.

Needless to say I was rather upset by her lack of driving skills and given my propensity to swearing profusely, especially when under the influence of road rage, I began to launch into my usual barrage of profanities using all my favourites such as the ‘f’ word and depending on the driving offence at hand, the ‘c’ word is another favourite. I must add here that all this is done within the confines of my car, so no one is the wiser.  Before I got my favourite words out, I realised that my impressionable grand-kids were behind me.  Immediately I stopped and finished the sentence with “you damn idiot”.  Feeling rather unsatisfied because I couldn’t finish what I really wanted to say, I finished the rantings with mumblings under my breath.  I looked over at my son-in-law for sympathy but all I was presented with was a look of surprise followed by the rolling of his eyes.  “What?” I asked.  “Like two peas in a pod” was his reply.

Now this is not the first time my son-in-law has had this same surprised look or uttered the old English saying, like two peas in a pod, which dates back as far as the 16th Century.  I think the look of surprise is when he realises yet another instance where my daughter and I show remarkable similarities.

No sooner did he utter the words when my daughter followed through with “look into the future, Mum’s just me twenty years older”, then she launched into an infectious giggle which I immediately caught and so did my son-in-law.  After a moment or two I stopped giggling and said “what’s wrong with that?” which only inflamed the giggle session.

I’m sure at the end of the day, my son-in-law is bestowing a compliment on me. We’ll that’s how I see it anyway.

Like I mentioned, there have been many occasions my son-in-law has given the same look and has uttered the same thing. He’s even said many times that me, my daughter and grand-daughter are like three peas in a pod.

I must admit the similarities aren’t lost of me either. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a re-run of my life and thankfully that’s not a bad thing.  And the older my daughter gets the more she’s turning into me and the older my grand-daughter gets I see my daughter at that age doing, saying and acting the same way.

And I can’t finish this blog without mentioning my two sons who I have watched turn into their fathers.  My eldest son is the spitting image of his dad and that’s great because his dad died and I’m so lucky to watch his legacy live on in our son. My youngest son looks, walks and thinks like his dad and luckily for him, his dad’s pretty cool.

And then there’s my beautiful baby grandson, who reminds me so much of his uncle (my eldest son) and in turn reminds me of my eldest son’s dad. As I’m sure my son-in-law’s mother sees similarities between the generations as well.

It’s comforting to know that our legacies are being passed down the generations and from what I see of my kids and grand-kids, it’s one to be proud of even if the legacy includes the odd occurrence of road rage, albeit road rage no one ever hears or sees unless you’re in the same car, as my son-in-law can testify too.

A trip down cemetery lane

When I was young, together with my Mum, Aunties and Nan, visited our dead relies in the local cemetery at least half a dozen times a year for various occasions such as birthdays, mother’s and father’s day, Easter and Xmas.  We’d even visit on other occasions just to do a tidy-up,  maybe a weed or two needed to be pulled from between the cement cracks, leaves cleared and the constant clearing and replacing of the previously left flower arrangements.

We even cleaned the empty slots in the columbarium wall reserved for my Nan, before she moved in, and the slots reserved for my Aunties.  I always found this a little unnerving – housekeeping the final resting place before moving in, but my Aunties don’t seem to be too bothered by it, they’re just happy to have a nice clean slot prettied up with some flowers next to my Nan and Pop’s freshly shined plagues.

On these visits we’d do the rounds of all the relies and every time I’d ask lots of questions about who was who and how they died.  Funnily enough these were happy
Since moving to Sydney my visits to the family cemetery have been limited, but on one visit a couple of years ago I took my eldest son, much to his initial lack of excitement. However, I enjoyed the role change from the once child being led to the adult leading the child telling the same stories, or what I could remember.

Also, to prove my families love for visiting the cemetery I must tell you the story of one of my trips to the country where prior to going to my Aunties, I dropped into the cemetery to visit the dead family – as you do.  Unbeknownst to me my Aunties also decided to drop over before I arrived at their place.  So there we were, in the Cemetery, each other not knowing the other’s intention to visit that day. To make this meeting all the more enjoyable we bumped into a two other groups of whom we new very well. They too were visiting their dead family – don’t ya just love a small country town.  It’s a shame we didn’t take a packed lunch and turn it into a real shindig.

Another visit to a cemetery happened only recently albeit an impromptu, unplanned visit.  This time with my three kids, son-in-law and grandkids. The cemetery is at Parramatta, across from my son’s place is one of the first cemeteries of the early settlers. Since we parked in front I couldn’t resist the urge to do a walk around as it had been a while. Although my son-in-law was bored out of his brain, thankfully my kids got into the event, we even found the grave of Gregory Blaxland, one of the three explorers first to cross the Blue Mountains.  A trip to the cemetery with a history lesson thrown in – better than a lesson in the classroom wouldn’t you say?

My latest renewed interest started with a visit from my Aunties (the ones who have reserved slots in the columbarium wall) at Easter time this year. This Easter also included Anzac day. During Anzac week offered free access so we took up the offer.  One thing led to another and before the day was out (after about 7 hours online) I had traced my paternal Grandmother’s family back to the 1500s while running into the odd convict or two – which by-the-way was a proud moment for me.  There’s nothing that says you’re an Aussie more than having a convict in your family tree.  And yes I know it’s not my biological family tree but I’m sure there are a few bastards on the tree and I’m proud to be one myself.

What’s this got to do with cemeteries you ask?  Well, when you’re doing a family tree on the Internet it’s very easy to link the wrong people, whether it’s one ancestor to another family’s ancestor, or as I did, the wrong husband and wife. It wasn’t until I searched the cemetery database, which includes a picture of the headstone, that I was able to link up the right husband and wife team – I’m sure they will be eternally grateful.

And this my friend is what has renewed my latest interest in cemeteries. So much that I’m going to plan a weekend in Sofala (a place where the convict ancestors came to after they were released from incarceration) and taking into account they had a many children, the local cemetery should be swarming. And I think I’ll be like a little girl in a cookie store.

So I’ll finish this blog and do a search on cemetery holidays.  I’m sure they exist.  And I’ll also leave you with this task – go to the cemetery your family is resting in or if that’s not possible go to the nearest cemetery and walk around, I’m sure you’ll have a blast – and don’t forget to take the kids.